• Sugar sweetened beverage consumption in the early years and implications for type 2 diabetes: A sub-Saharan Africa context

      Audain, Keiron A.; Levy, Louis; Ellahi, Basma; University of Zambia; Public Health England; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2019-02-28)
      This review aims to explore trends of early consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), within the context of growing child and adolescent obesity and escalating type-2 diabetes prevalence. We explore efforts to mitigate these, drawing on examples from Africa and elsewhere. SSBs including carbonated drinks and fruit juices, play a contributory role in the development of obesity and associated non-communicable diseases. SSA is an attractive market for beverage companies owing to its rapid economic growth, growing middle class and youthful populations. SSBs already contribute significantly to total sugar and energy consumption in SSA where a plethora of marketing techniques targeted at younger people are utilised to ensure brand recognition and influence purchasing and brand loyalty. Coupled with a general lack of nutrition knowledge or engagement with preventative health, this can lead to frequent consumption of sugary drinks at a young age. Many high and some middle income countries public health efforts address increasing prevalence of obesity and type-2 diabetes by focussing on strategies to encourage reduction in sugar consumption via health policy and public education campaigns. However, similar efforts are not as developed or forthcoming in low-income countries. Health care systems across SSA are ill-prepared to cope with epidemic proportions of non-communicable diseases, particularly when contextualized with the ongoing battle with infectious diseases. We conclude that greater efforts by governments and the nutrition community to educate the public on the health effects of increased and excessive consumption of SSBs are necessary to help address this issue.
    • Understanding Marketing Responses to a Tax on Sugary Drinks: A Qualitative Interview Study in the United Kingdom, 2019

      Forde, Hannah; Penney, Tarra; White, Martin; Levy, Louis; Greaves, Felix; Adams, Jean (Maad Rayan Publishing Company, 2022-01-29)
      Background: The World Health Organization recommends that countries implement fiscal policies to reduce the health impacts of sugary drinks. Few studies have fully examined the responses of industry to these policies, and whether they support or undermine health benefits of sugary drinks taxes. We aimed to explore the changes that sugary drinks companies may make to their marketing, and underlying decision-making processes, in response to such a tax. Methods: Following introduction of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) in 2018, we undertook one-to-one semi-structured interviews with UK stakeholders with experience of the strategic decision-making or marketing of soft drink companies. We purposively recruited interviewees using seed and snowball sampling. We conducted telephone interviews with 6 representatives from each of industry, academia and civil society (total n=18), which were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. Four transcripts were double-coded, three were excluded from initial coding to allow comparison; and findings were checked by interviewees. Results: Themes were organised into a theoretical framework that reveals a cyclical, iterative and ongoing process of soft drink company marketing decision-making, which was accelerated by the SDIL. Decisions about marketing affect a product’s position, or niche, in the market and were primarily intended to maintain profits. A product’s position is enacted through various marketing activities including reformulation and price variation, and non-marketing activities like lobbying. A soft drink company’s selection of marketing activities appeared to be influenced by their internal context, such as brand strength, and external context, such as consumer trends and policy. For example, a company with low brand strength and an awareness of trends for reducing sugar consumption may be more likely to reformulate to lower-sugar alternatives. Conclusion: The theoretical framework suggests that marketing responses following the SDIL were coordinated and context-dependent, potentially explaining observed heterogeneity in responses across the industry.